Against a “Life Hack” Approach to Art Education

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Claudia W. Ruitenberg


Abstract: This paper critiques de Botton and Armstrong’s Art as Therapy project (2013-2015), a collaboration with art museums in Canada, the Netherlands, and Australia, in which labels in the gallery, as well a catalogue and website, explain how viewers might use works of art to serve therapeutic purposes in their lives. The paper argues that, instead of making art more accessible to those who, allegedly, do not find access to art on their own, the Art as Therapy project undermines the force and richness of art by first declaring it useless and inaccessible and then repurposing it as therapeutic life hack.

KEYWORDS: Museum education; aesthetic experience; pedagogical intervention; interpretive freedom.

Résumé: Cet article se veut une critique du projet Art as Therapy (2013-2015) de Botton et Armstrong, mené en collaboration avec des musées des beaux-arts canadiens, néerlandais et australiens, dans le cadre duquel les affichettes des musées, ainsi que catalogues et sites Web, expliquent aux visiteurs comment utiliser les œuvres d’art à des fins thérapeutiques dans leur quotidien. Dans cet article, je prétends que, plutôt que rendre l’art davantage accessible à ceux qui ne peuvent supposément y accéder de leur propre chef, le projet Art as Therapy sape la force et la richesse de l’art en le déclarant à prime abord inutile et inaccessible pour le transformer par la suite en « astuces de vie » thérapeutiques

MOTS CLES: Éducation muséale; d’expérience esthétique; intervention pédagogique; la liberté interprétative


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